DV Gundappa's Conception of an Ideal Statesman

This article is part 7 of 7 in the series Life and Legacy of DVG

The insights of the sort DVG possessed emanated precisely from this deep understanding of philosophy, or more accurately, his realization of Darshana. In other words, when we grasp the nature of the world characterized by name and form (nAma-rUpa), we develop what is known as the tara-tama vivEka—wisdom to grade worldly events and phenomena. In his own[1] words,

The subject matter of politics is human nature…a person who desires to work in this field according to mathematical formulae truly lives in the world of illusion…[For this reason, such a person needs to] study and contemplate on philosophy with a sense of objective detachment after discarding personal feelings of anger and prejudice. Our politics will be healthy and robust in direct proportion to the extent to which this contemplation is deep, robust, and fundamental.   

Especially in an alien system like electoral democracy, where[2] “everybody has the freedom and opportunity to meddle in every affair,” and because every citizen is a potential ruler, and all are[3] (theoretically) equal, “how should such a political system work? After all, that which belongs to everybody belongs to nobody.

There is great profundity behind this seemingly common-sense observation. It is also a warning that DVG issues: perhaps a significant and continuing challenge before Indian democracy is this: how should our political system constantly renew the intangible but real feeling of belongingness and oneness? When we compare this with the aforementioned phenomenon of the growth of regional political parties and fanatical and other lobbies, this challenge demands an urgent remedy like never before.

This phenomenon can be viewed from another perspective: in the last seventy years, each time a clash has occurred between the harsh forces of business, various lobbies and groups with those of ideals, the latter has invariably, unfailingly lost. In other words, for the most part, this trajectory has been a change for the worse. Which is another area where DVG becomes more relevant, and a study of his work, more imperative today. A change in the cabinet or in laws as a genuine response to the demands of people and public opinion is largely in tune with the principles of natural justice (another topic on which DVG has provided extraordinary insights, which shall be examined in a subsequent chapter). However, if this change occurs due to any other extraneous reason, the demonstrated consequence is chaos. In a democracy the opportunity for change[4] is a healthy sign.

However, is it not a healthy sign for that opportunity to be subjected to experimentation on a monthly basis. Change is essentially a punishment. Punishment means an exposure of faults. And so, if the only job of a Government is to keep making mistakes and getting beaten for it, where will it have the time to do the right thing? Merely because the medicine to cure diarrhea is readily available, is it wise to voluntarily embrace indigestion?

It is for these and other important reasons that DVG expounded and emphasized on the necessity for a rigorous philosophical training and cultivation of certain specific traits, attitudes, and behavior on the part of any person who wishes to enter political life. Because every citizen in a democracy is eligible—by constitution-given right—to occupy political office, it automatically doesn’t mean that the person is qualified for it. As a representative sample[5] of DVG’s vision,

The first qualification for such a (political) aspirant is this: a keen understanding of the nature of justice and harmony. The method of earning this qualification is a study of literature and philosophy.  [And] A person who wishes to occupy public office must be able to visualize the noble or ideal picture of the world first in his mind. the field of activity of the litterateur is the world of sound; that of the politician is the vast world of real people.

Indeed, as the history of the greatest statesmen in the world has shown, this kind of self-education and personal traits supplies a vision of justice that is rooted in an integrative view. Thus, DVG’s conception of the ideal statesman should possess the following qualifications and traits:

  1. An uncompromising fidelity to justice.
  2. A conscious and active awareness of his/her debt to the nation, society and culture.
  3. A constant refinement of his/her innate sense of morality and magnanimity in public conduct and affairs.
  4. An awareness of the physical manifestation of the ideal that the state should strive to attain.

When translated in practical terms, this statesman must be akin to an integrating force of:

  1. Theoretical scholarship endowed with what can be called a “research mind set.”
  2. Nuance, subtlety and foresight
  3. Clearly articulating tough concepts
  4. Promoting a philosophical outlook among the people
  5. Safeguarding and multiplying the ethical and moral treasure of the country.  

In the same vein, DVG also warns of the perils of a statesman becoming a professional politician. And the caution he gives[6] to the potential dangers faced by a nationalist who becomes an elected representative: as long as the nationalist remains outside the formal or established political system, his/her voice has limited reach but has complete freedom; the moment this nationalist becomes part of this formal system, he/she loses this freedom. It takes extraordinary ability, skill, subtlety and perception to strike a fine balance. Or to take the easy way of succumbing to the vices of what DVG calls “party politics” as a substitute for real democracy.

To the post-industrial and technology-driven sensibilities of the contemporary world, which has pretty much erased a sense of history, these might sound fanciful and therefore unattainable ideals. However, the same history (in India, for the present purpose) shows the examples of scores of such statesmen, kings, ministers, and leaders who lived these ideals from which DVG took inspiration and developed his own insights.

Notes


  1. Ibid Pp. 176-7
  2. Ibid. Pp. 192
  3. Ibid. Pp. 180. Emphasis added.
  4. Ibid. p.554. Emphasis added.
  5. D V Gundappa: DVG Kruti Shreni: Volume 1: Vicara, Vimarshe: Sahitya Shakti   (Govt of Karnataka, 2013). pp.192, 199.
  6. See, for example, the discussions on pp. 152-3; 182-6. D V Gundappa: Rajyashastra, Rajyanga—DVG Kruti Shreni: Volume 5 (Govt of Karnataka, 2013).

 

 

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About:

Sandeep Balakrishna is a writer, author, translator, and socio-political-cultural analyst. He is the author of "Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore" and "The Madurai Sultanate: A Concise History." He translated Dr. S L Bhyrappa's magnum opus "Avarana" into English.